India

India customer reviews

We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family trip to India with us. And please do ring if you’d like to talk with someone who has been there and travelled with the kids.

India customers reviews - family on camels

Rogers  Family (with teenagers aged 17 & 19)

Travelled Christmas 2023 / New Year 2024
Dear Charlotte. We had a great trip and felt that the balance of travel and stopping over that you suggested was just right for us. We enjoyed the accommodation choices – characterful, but equally, we liked the air con in the heat! Mumbai was fascinating and we were grateful to the local agent for trying to see if we could get access to Jinnah House. Our guide was really informative. We’d recommend a tour around Dharavi – we went on the train and found a 2-hour tour quite uplifting, hearing about all the small businesses run there. Bombay Brasserie was a good find for supper on the first night – relatively high end (c £60 for 4 of us), but still authentic, delicious, with families and groups of friends, air con, and in Colaba.

Kerala
The car journeys were fascinating in themselves as there’s so much life to see on the streets/ landscapes to enjoy.

We really loved our tour with Monichen in Munar – he is charming, a trustee of the national park there, and is very knowledgeable. We chose to visit the Lockhart tea factory rather than the tea museum as there wasn’t time for both and were delighted we had – it was fascinating.

It was quite cool in the hills and the temperature went up by 12 degrees when we got down to sea level.

The beach hotel for Christmas was great – it managed to have a friendly atmosphere while being a treat. Mainly down to the staff and plenty of space. Nice details like the tea cart on the lawn each day when guests could mingle/ or not! Bird tour on site is well worth doing.

You were absolutely right about one night being sufficient on the houseboat (quite hot and diesel-y! though lovely views. We did retrace our tracks in the morning, but maybe that’s the price you pay if just doing one night).

We enjoyed our next night at the heritage hotel, with a charming host and staff (we’d recommend the low-key cookery demo as we had good chats about life in the area, plus a couple of recipes to bring home) and being able to borrow bikes and cycle around the paddy fields and local village a bit.

We really liked Cochin, and ended up buying a lot of printed cotton items there! New Year’s Eve was very busy, it was interesting seeing local tourists flood in (and a very efficient clean-up operation start the next day), but the fireworks were a bit underwhelming. Several other foreigners we spoke to were advised to stay in their hotels in the evening (it did get a bit edgy).

During the New Year Carnival traffic is tricky as the centre of the city is closed, so we ended up arriving at the airport 6 hours early, rather than late. The transfer was carefully planned, but we’d probably suggest avoiding New Year for both reasons.

Our driver, Rajeev, was sensitive to what made us tick – eg took us to nice local roadside restaurants and didn’t try and take us to lots of extra stops!

Thank you and Molly for arranging such a memorable family trip.

Bell Multigenerational Family

Travelled December 2023
Dear Claire. Thank you for all the work you and Tracy did to make this holiday a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will all remember, hopefully even for M and S, at 6 and 5! The first week of our holiday would not have been so relaxed, so much fun, and informative without Kuldeep guiding us. He switched effortlessly from telling us something interesting about Indian customs and being very knowledgeable about buildings etc to helping the children find monkeys on the roads we were passing or other various wildlife that they were so fascinated with. He also joined in the games on the coach and even almost ran his mobile down letting L and B use it for karaoke on the last day in the coach!


Kuldeep very cleverly gave us a trip in the coach around New Delhi first stopping at the Lodi Gardens, which as well as being beautiful with various old buildings, meant the children could run around and it was a nonconfrontational way for them to get used to people staring at them because of their light colour hair, etc. Also, there was some wildlife. He then suggested anyone that whoever wanted could get out to look at the Gate of India, no pressure, so most did.

The hotel at Agra was a beautiful colonial hotel but it had seen better days!  They very kindly set up a table near the pool for us for lunch when we arrived, the rooms looked amazing but the electrics and the bathrooms could do with an update. There was a lovely welcome when we arrived with garlands and bindis and the girls had henna before they left.

Both long coach rides went very smoothly. We stopped every two hours for ‘comfort stops’ and had great fun with again the local people photographing their children with our children and us taking photos of this. Also, a good opportunity to chat with people.

The Ranthambore hotel was in a good position for easy access to the park, maybe 10 minutes depending on the speed of our drivers at the time!  The hotel felt intimate with lots of greenery and fountains to distract from the noise outside the hotel. The pool and surrounding lawn with the bar were good and they were always happy to move tables so we could sit together. The food was delicious.  The children joined in the dancing in the evening.

We all saw a tiger so everyone was very happy! Sloth bear in the first 10 minutes of entering the park on the first day and the tiger that afternoon. Lovely game drive the following am but we had already been spoilt!

On the way to Jaipur, which we all absolutely loved, Kuldeep got in touch with a school as we had bought biros and small packets of sweets but hadn’t had a chance to give them to anyone and they were happy for us to stop and hand them out.  It also showed our children how lucky they are to have chairs and desks at their schools so I hope both lots of children benefitted.

The hotel in Jaipur was our favourite hotel.  It was set around courtyards, the swimming pool being in one.  As usual, the pool was cold because of the time of year but that didn’t stop some from going in. There were a lot of inlaid stones and coloured glass in door panels and beautiful paintings on the woodwork and plaster. They gave us a large wooden table in the middle of the dining room under a beautiful glass chandelier to eat at and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful, even lending N a turban for a photo opportunity!

We had a wonderful time in Jaipur visiting the Amber Fort, going the last bit in jeeps, cycle rickshaws through the main walled streets, and tuk-tuks to visit a jewellery shop when killing time before going to the airport, all arranged by Kuldeep who even managed to get us a booking on the static train in the Steam restaurant at the Rambagh Palace Hotel where N and I had last visited before its renovation in about the mid 1980’s!

W aged 14, gave a farewell speech thanking Kuldeep for looking after us.  W is the next David Attenborough (his hero) and Kuldeep was very helpful to him pointing out various birds, bats and flora.

The wheelchair worked well for N, his first experience of one. Kuldeep or the driver’s helper, Innocent, pushed it round the Taj Mahal or Agra Fort etc, anywhere where there was a lot of walking or standing around. Both places seemed well set up with ramps in a lot of places, though not all.

The hotel in Udaipur we realised was going to be a bit of a gamble but everyone had agreed they wanted some peace for their few days of relaxation. It took about half an hour to get into Udaipur centre, and was set beside a lake just past a village.  It was a hotel not frequented by foreign visitors which made it very representative of true India’s good value for money. 

As we were such a big group we found getting our food all at the same time, especially if it was pizzas at lunchtime, was impossible!… The children were very happy as the pool was good with a table set into it where they did painting, catching up on their diaries, or finishing off their friendship bracelets while surrounded by water. It was a beautiful setting beside a lake with good sunsets. Some of the children played table tennis in reception or cricket and football on the lawn. The boys took a jeep up into the hills, with a driver, for a hike.  So it was very much a home-from-home experience.

Our guide in Udaipur was very cheerful and friendly.  Ten of us managed to go to the Ambrai Restaurant on the edge of Lake Picola one evening, thank you Claire!  We had a fun tuk-tuk ride for the last kilometre before arriving at the stunning venue. As is usual the younger ones did some art or played a game of UNO etc while waiting for the food, it was a very memorable evening.

The next day a few of us spent in our rooms recuperating!

The hotel in Mumbai was completely the opposite of every other hotel that we had stayed at.  I love it because of its position on the Queen’s Necklace and the pool that has the best view of Mumbai’s shoreline.  There are also fun shops under the Trident that the girls especially enjoyed. More henna was also applied. B, a train enthusiast went to the main station with his dad and most of us had a walk along the promenade.  I gather the tour of Mumbai was interesting, the Gate of India and the Dhobi ghats especially but again everyone was exhausted and the ‘warm’ pool beckoned.  Again as everywhere else the dining room staff were very accommodating of such a large group. 

Thank you Claire and Tracy.

Witheridge Family

Travelled November 2023 (50th birthday celebration)
Dear Tracy and Claire. Thank you for your email. In fact, we have only just got back but we had the MOST incredible time, thank you so much – it was just wonderful – we LOVED all the hotels, all the activities and it was so well organised. Also, it was perfectly planned by you with the level of activities, downtime, and time spent in each location. I have got FANTASTIC photographs which I can send to you once I have organised them a bit better. Thank you. 

Fisher Family (with child aged 3 )

Travelled September 2023
Hi Charlotte. The trip was absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much for all your organisation – somehow, in a country where everything seems slightly chaotic and almost everything runs behind schedule, your itinerary ran like clockwork. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we went. I was very daunted by India with a three-year-old, but he seems to have grown and changed so much in the two weeks we were away. It was a real learning experience for all of us.

The absolute highlights were Elefantastic and the whole Karouli experience, Agra (particularly the Taj and Baby Taj), and the bird sanctuary. In Jaipur, we extended our tour to include the Amber Fort which was also brilliant and our guide there was also especially great with kids. All of the hotels were great and everyone was brilliant with our son. We would especially love to thank our driver, Ram, who was fantastic. He somehow managed to cut across about 20 lanes of traffic for an emergency toddler wee stop, which was heroic to say the least!

I’ve already recommended you to several friends, so hopefully you get some more bookings in the future. We will definitely be coming back, as we are now hooked on the more adventurous family holiday.

Thank you again!

Crawford Family (with children aged 12, 17 & 19)

Travelled Summer 2023
Hi Charlotte. Well, what can I say? Our India adventure was everything I had hoped it would be and more!  Your itinerary worked perfectly for our family. All our guides were polite, knowledgeable and very helpful. Our driver Ashook, was a gentleman. He drove with great skill and precision and we felt totally safe in his care. Arriving into Delhi was a baptism of fire, and we felt one full day was enough at the start of the holiday. However, we thoroughly enjoyed returning to Delhi on the last day of the holiday as we were more savvy and streetwise by then!

Our accommodation in Delhi was fantastic, a calm oasis outside of the bustling city. The staff were so helpful and hospitable. They even provided my 19-year-old son with a birthday cake. Their home-cooked evening meals were tasty and great value. We will all remember the breakfasts with fondness; their masala scrambled eggs, freshly baked banana bread and masala chai.

We loved tranquil Udaipur. The accommodation was very luxurious and the adults enjoyed a wee gin and tonic whilst watching the lake!  

Narlai was a real surprise, we weren’t expecting such luxury in the midst of the village. We would all have enjoyed a second night there! 

One night in Jodphur was enough time for us to see the main sights. We enjoyed dinner at sunset on the hotel rooftop restaurant with the Meherangarh Fort in the background. 

Our time at Chandaleo Garh was absolutely heavenly and it has left a lasting impression on us all. Whilst the accommodation was basic it was more than adequate. We enjoyed learning about the community projects being supported by the owner. The warmth of hospitality, great food and lovely pool made it a wonderful stay. You were totally right, the time spent in the villages was extra special and we really appreciated getting an insight into people’s lives. 

Pushkar was worth a visit. We enjoyed the free time exploring ourselves. We took a jeep safari out to the desert and the teenagers had a go on some quads. It was great fun. The hotel is definitely in a great location but it was our least favourite. It was very tired and the staff were quite apathetic.  

I’m so glad you recommended two nights at the Jaipur hotel. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve stayed.  The cycle tour in Jaipur was fabulous fun! We all enjoyed weaving our way through the cows, dogs, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, rickshaws and cars! Going through the markets, eating really fresh street food and the breakfast at our guide’s home were fantastic experiences. Our afternoon at Elefantastic was very special and definitely worth a visit. 

The homestay in Agra worked very well and it was so convenient to the Taj Mahal, especially beneficial for our dawn visit! 

Charlotte, I can’t thank you enough for your meticulous planning and sound recommendations. You communicated quickly and efficiently throughout the planning stages and I really valued your honest guidance and suggestions. Whilst in India, everything worked seamlessly and we were able to truly relax, having full confidence that Stubborn Mule had us covered. I will be recommending you to my friends and I look forward to planning another trip with you soon! Thanks for everything. 

Family B (with children aged 6, 10 & 12)

Travelled February Half-term 2023
Hello Charlotte. Our trip was fantastic, we all enjoyed it. Everything worked out well, the accommodation was great, and we had a lovely driver who we had most of the trip apart from the last 2 days. He made us welcome, relaxed, and not rushed. We are really pleased that we were able to add more days to the trip. This made a big difference to us as a family, especially with autism, as we did not try to cram too much into a day. The hotel in Dholpur was a beautiful place for accommodation and would definitely recommend more than a night there. We will definitely be going back to India. We were very surprised at how well our autistic son coped, he found calm in the chaos. Thanks for helping plan an amazing trip for us.

Jagroop Family (with teenagers aged 15, 16 & 18)

Travelled Christmas/New Year 2022/3
Hi Kelly. Happy New Year to you too. Wow, India, what a country, what a trip. We absolutely loved every minute of it and we’ll definitely be going back. Everything went to plan with timings and flights etc. M got back safely and enjoyed her mini adventure. Our driver (Pawan) who we had for eleven days was an absolute star. He was wonderful & our van was clean & tidy. He was helpful, knowledgeable and nothing was too much trouble. We found everyone welcoming and friendly & had no hassle with people begging. We pretty much kept Delhi belly at bay! Our hotels were great… Our houseboat was beautiful and our time on the backwaters was tranquil. 

Here are a few recommendations along with some points worth knowing for future travellers:

– The Sloth Bear Sanctuary (SOS Wildlife) near Agra is well worth the visit. We were the only visitors that morning as they have a limited number of visitors per day which means you get a private tour and get to learn about the amazing work they do. Guides generally take you to the Elephant Sanctuary so you need to be very clear it’s the bears you want to see. It needs to be pre-booked beforehand but it’s very easy to arrange.

– Delhi – the metro system is fantastic and easy to use. We spent our free afternoon in New Delhi and got the metro to Qutab Mina along with the light show @ Swaminarayan Akshardham. Both worth adding to itineraries. 

– All our guides were fantastic however the guide in Delhi compared to our other guides lacked a certain something! 

– Osian. The hotel was lovely but it’s not really in the desert and is surrounded by similar venues with lots of desert jeeps & loud music. It’s also right next to a train track so we had train horns blaring most of the night! Saying that the tents were beautifully appointed & the beds super comfy, it’s just a shame it wasn’t more remote. 

– Most hotels don’t stock alcohol so you need to pick some up en route or ask if the hotel can buy some in. The food in the hotels was excellent. 

– A few hotels didn’t take card payments and only wanted cash, this we only discovered as we were checking out! Thankfully between us, we had enough.

– Cookery evening in Udaipur was fun. We really enjoyed Udaipur, it had a lovely calmness to it. 

– Vehicles in Kerala weren’t great and we were glad we didn’t have any long journeys in them. 

– Amritsar, we loved. Wagah Border closing ceremony was totally bonkers & a great way to end an emotional day having visited the Partition Museum & Jallianwala Bagh.  

– Early morning at the Taj was magical & the location of our homestay was perfect. As was sunrise on the Ganges. 

– Buy an India SIM card @ the airport. 

– Lots of local people wanted to take photographs with us, we were more than happy with this but I appreciate not everybody will be. 

– City Palace – Jaipur. James and I had a couple of hours here and it was beautiful, however, if I remember correctly it was expensive to get in but it was worth it. It’s right next door to Jantar Mantar (which was also fab)

– We used the Lonely Planet Guide a fair bit and did a great walking tour around the Bazaars of Jaipur. It was the perfect place to buy gifts and haggle!

– Tipping is very much expected & varies from state to state. It’s worth getting some low domination for tipping the toilet porters.

Huge thanks Kelly for your patience & for making this trip such a memorable one. India was so much more than I ever imagined it would be. Our time together as an ‘extended’ family was very special, and I know we will cherish that time forever. As you can imagine we took hundreds of photographs. Happy to share some.

I’m already thinking about our next adventure in 2024 & need to start saving! Thinking Mexico, Belize & Guatemala, or even Nepal. I’ll be in touch & who knows maybe J & Da will join us again!

Thanks again for everything & happy travels.

Marsh Family (with teenagers aged 14, 17 & 19)

Travelled Summer 2022
Morning Charlotte. Happy New Year. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to send some photos. In brief, it really was the most awe-inspiring trip. Definitely a trip of a thousand contrasts. Speak soon.

Vivian Family (with children aged 5, 7 and 9)

Travelled November 2019 – Rajasthan
Hi Charlotte, we had an amazing time, thanks! Favourite parts were Fort Bali and the bullock cart. We all loved that. The kids of course loved Elefantastic, it was great. My husband and I loved the walking tour of Jaipur, our guide was excellent and took us to some real off the beaten track places. Hotel wise, they were all good but the one in Delhi stood out, a real oasis in a crazy city! The home cooked food was ridiculously good. I’d highly recommend using Stubborn Mule to anyone. Your responsiveness and flexibility in creating exactly the right trip for us was invaluable, especially for our first family holiday of this type. I hadn’t quite visualised how the whole thing would hang together with the different hotels, guides, drivers, planes and trains but honestly apart from the blip at the bird sanctuary, I never needed to have worried at all, it was all perfectly planned. We felt safe and looked after and basically had a ball! Thank you so much!

Prestons (two adults)

Travelled Easter 2019 – Rajasthan
Dear Emily – It was amazing and very emotional meeting my Indian family. Sardashahr is quote remote albeit a reasonably large town. It’s bigger than say Lowestoft, but not being a tourist destination, and without a good road, means that it is quite backward.  My family are Muslim Indians, so that means that they’re even more conservative.  They were very warm and welcoming, couldn’t have asked for more.  Actually sat and had lunch in the room where my father was born more than 85 years ago!  Thank you all for your detailed planning.  We are really grateful.  We had a truly memorable holiday.  We would definitely come to you again.

Harrison Family (with 3 year old)

Travelled New Year 2019 to Sri Lanka and Mumbai
Dear Emily. Everything about the trip was fantastic and it exceeded our expectations in many ways. Mumbai was a bit of a culture shock but wonderful in its own way.  The hotel was nice but so big. It was a very different experience to all the wonderful small hotels in Sri Lanka. We did have a bit of trouble on the 2nd night with noisy neighbours, we complained in the morning and they moved us to a 2 room suite on the 31st floor with views of marine drive so that more than made up for a disturbed night!

We decided to take ourselves around Mumbai and try and experience the city our own way and we walked miles on both days.  It isn’t enormously buggy friendly but we just followed the locals and crossed the busy roads when they did and managed to avoid getting run over!!

The city is noisy and so busy but we saw all the sights and enjoyed walking the side streets and seeing the real city. We didn’t get any hassle from anyone, they were also fascinated by L and she got lots of very kind attention from the locals. We got a taxi up to the Hanging Gardens to see where C’s dad had played and then had a slightly hair raising walk to Breach Candy where Chris’ dad had grown up in the 40s and 50s. It was obviously quite different but a special experience for C.

All in all, the trip was a huge success and we want to thank you so much for the trip you put together for us. Everything went so smoothly it meant that we could just absorb the adventure.

It was everything we had hoped for and your amazing planning and organising and recommendations made that possible, there is no way we could have put that together on our own.  We will definitely be using your services again and I have already recommended you to several friends with children.

Ancaster Lugg Family (with children aged 10 & 14)

Travelled Christmas 2018
We had the most amazing time in India – and thanks to Stubborn Mule everything ran like clockwork. We went armed full of Imodium and Dioralyte and thankfully didn’t need any of it!  We were pleased we managed to fit everything in that we had planned. It was completely crazy there but so vibrant and loud with lovely, friendly people.

In hindsight, the hotel in Jodhpur was so lovely that we would have liked to spend longer there. But the experience at Chandelao gave us such an authentic experience. The only downside (very minor) was the hotel in Jaipur. It just didn’t live up to expectations… Many thanks for organising such a great holiday.

Rayner McKenzie Family (with adult child)

Travelled Easter 2018 – Rajasthan
Hi KellyWe really enjoyed our trip to Rajasthan. All the guides were very good. So starting with Agra, for a modern hotel it was very good and the staff made it exceptionally good. The breakfast restaurant staff could not do enough for you and were extremely helpful and friendly. We thoroughly enjoyed our city tour and actually enjoyed this more than the trip to the Taj Mahal! We enjoyed it because it was quieter and the views of the Taj Mahal from the Moghul gardens at sunset were stunning. As with all major attractions, the visit to the Taj Mahal was a lot busier. It was still stunning and we did enjoy it, but we all felt it was one of those attractions that has the wow factor from afar. Hence the views from Agra fort and the gardens of it were beautiful, so I would advise anyone visiting Agra to do these excursions too.

Knight Family (with children aged 8, 11 & 13)

Travelled Easter 2018 – Rajasthan
We had a really really amazing trip, we all just loved it, Thank you.  Highlights included Udaipur (Jagat Niwas Palace is just fabulous with delightful staff and a lovely atmosphere plus amazing views of Pichola Lake), Dera Amer (… it is a truly magical place especially for kids, expensive but I don’t think anyone would want to go for more than a night anyway, it was just out of this world and the children were in heaven hugging and washing the elephants)…

… we loved Ranthambore fort and were lucky to see a tiger (although people who went on the private non-canter tours saw many many sightings, so just so you know for future reference you absolutely don’t need to do the canters and lots of people at our hotel were not).

Amber fort was amazing and has been beautifully restored since I last went there, and perhaps the icing on the cake was Samode.  We got there very late at night down a 3k bumpy track only for a night security guard to tell us that it was shut due to lack of people, BUT they upgraded us to the Samode Palace which was absolutely spectacular and I am very glad that happened as I hadn’t quite realised that it would have been the third hotel in a row where we would have been in tents in 40 degree heat!

Most of the logistics worked very well with all the partners (who are a bit OTT in their hanging around looking after you, but they are probably just trying to justify their existence!) and the drivers were all good.

Re hotels we had mixed feelings, some were superb and some not so.  A quick run down:

First hotel in Mumbai – was adequate…

Jagat Niwas – wonderful

Puskar Palace – we got a very funny feeling in Pushkar, not a nice one…  We managed to get ourselves moved the following night to the sister Jagat Palace which I would definitely recommend over the Pushkar Palace.

Dera Amer – their website is awful, but the place is a dream.

Ranthambore Bagh – this was a rather strange place… Very very dated! Tents were fine, although quite near the road which was also odd as they had loads of land away from the road.

Jaipur hotel –  we were outside the old city in a rather boring area.  The hotel was fine, it had a pool (maybe that is why you suggested it) which was unfortunately out of order both days we were there, but it was a shame to be so far out of the action and there was no where near to go and eat or soak up any atmosphere…

Samode Palace – faultless, probably the best hotel I have ever stayed in.

Overall thought it was a really wonderful holiday which we will never forget.

Thornton Family (with children aged 11 & 14)

Travelled Easter 2018 – Rajasthan
Hi Lee – We had an amazing holiday thank you and I really think we did get a good flavour of Rajasthan with its people, its culture and its history.  The trip was a true whistle-stop tour, but it didn’t really feel that we did too much travelling and meant that we did get to see a really diverse area.

Ridout Family (with children aged 6, 9 and 11)

Travelled February 2018 – Kerala
Hi there – We had a lovely time and Kerala was beautiful.  The boys really enjoyed it as well.  We loved our time there and of special note, Manwell, our driver, was fantastic.

Family W (mum and children aged 7 and 9)

Travelled Easter 2017
Hello Lee – I wanted to provide you with feedback further to our 3 weeks in India, but in particular mention our first driver, guide in Jaisalmeer BM Singh, guide in Jaipur, Vijay Singh and our last guide in Agra, who were simply outstanding in their care, attention and genuine service towards myself and my kids. We could not have tipped them enough!

We had a fantastic trip and the historic hotels were simply astounding and wonderful, foremost the hotel in Narauli and the B Villas in Karauli were simply stunning… we felt truly spoiled like Maharajas.

We were equally greeted by the local rep in Jaipur, who asked for further feedback and comments, which was appreciated.

As a sole suggestion I would recommend that a guide is organised for Jodphur, the only city were a male guide would have been appreciated and I suggest that you change the hotel accommodation for Pushkar, as this historic hotel was truly on the tired side.

Lastly, thank you for creating a fabulous itinerary and I will not hesitate to recommend your services to anyone else and consider you for our next trip down south!

McIntosh extended family (from grandparents to kids aged 9 and 12)

Travelled Easter 2017 – Northern India & Goa

Dear Kelly – We had the most amazing time and everyone loved it. Sadly Angus and I were quite ill at one stage and I had to go to hospital in the night for tests and treatment. Phil and all the hotel staff were brilliant and after various jabs and some intravenous medicine, I was up and running again. Angus also had the services of a doctor, but all our consultations and medication didn’t exceed £100! What a bargain.

Luckily Angus and I had been to India before so we had seen the sights.

I cannot fault the service given by Phil. Every visit was seamless and his local knowledge was a huge asset. The suggestion that we donated 2,000 rupees per person to him at the start of the trip was a master stroke. As we had no idea of who to tip or how much, it took away any concerns on that front. His restaurant suggestions were also spot on.

The coach driver was also to be recommended. Having been to India before, I was aware that the standard of driving and the road conditions were not as we know them here. However, the driver was very competent and we all felt safe in his hands.

It  is worth saying the Taj resort in Goa is more than paradise. Having  a week of luxury was perfect after the heat and dust of the first week. It was worth every penny and although it was not the cheap option, it cannot be faulted.

The accommodation choices during the first week were also excellent. Plenty of variety and the Palace at Karauli was a hit! We were also bowled over by the free lunch at the Sikh temple along with thousands of others! Mass catering on industrial levels.

We could not have done it without your expertise and patience. The reason I chose your company was that you listened to what we wanted from the start and in the end delivered. I’m sure at times you must have wondered what you had taken on, as increasingly I brought up new challenges. We must have been a challenge! All the timings and transfers, the balance of sightseeing and travelling were good. After all the months of organising I could sit back and watch my family having the best of times. For fourteen members of a family to spend two weeks together, without a single cross word made me very proud.

Thank you Kelly for enabling this experience for us and if you or your company ever need a recommendation, just give me a shout.

With many good wishes
Ps We didn’t see a tiger, maybe next time!

Emus Family (with children aged 6, 8, 11 and 13)

Travelled Easter 2017 – Northern India
Dear Liddy – We were only talking about you yesterday. We had a really great trip, the transport was perfect, not even a glitch. The Tour reps were great as well, meeting us when they should and were very helpful. We thought the tour guides were all good although a few I found hard to understand through accents not their English but all in all it was an amazing trip, everything I had hoped for and more.

Only two negatives were the Hotel in Udaipur (which was always going to be a challenge as I lived there for 4 months 15 years ago). The location was fine, but our rooms were very shoddy, and my husband even told me to take a photo of the wall in our bedroom as literally there was a TV and nothing else, just a blank wall. For a large comfortable room, it was far from it, and although there was a swimming pool you had to walk through an unfinished part of the hotel to get there, which made me furious. The woman said we had wonderful rooms that unfortunately weren’t ready for our arrival so we went up a floor to identical rooms that were ready but very uninspiring and ordinary which frustrated us both.

The chap that met us had already left but when he collected us two days later to take us to the train I mentioned it to him and he was very sorry and couldn’t have been more helpful.

My other disappointment was the hotel in Jaipur as again it was tired and shabby with a fridge that was rusty inside. Again I felt the same disappointment as we had had such a perfect trip staying in simply wonderful places. I warmed to the hotel as time went on but I did mention it to the rep who I didn’t warm to at all. I think it was a personality clash with me to be honest, as he gave a few chaps on the train station a talking to as they were smiling at us when we arrived in Jaipur, which was unnecessary as by then we were very used to being stared at and had hundreds of selfies with the children.

All in all it was an ACE trip, managed beautifully by your contacts in India, nothing went wrong apart from the two hotels but to be honest everything had been so magnificent up until that point I was hard to please as the standard had been so great.

I would definitely use your company again and would suggest friends to use you if they wanted to plan a trip with children to India. It was simply wonderful, the finer details were amazing and knowing what could have occurred in India I can only commend the organisation and thank you.

Stephens Family (mum, gran and one child age 6)

Travelled October 2016 – Northern India
What a truly amazing time we had on our holiday. India is breathtaking and we were enthralled by its colour, smells, sights and more than anything, its soul. The people were beautiful, and the places we visited truly wonderful. Every single guide and driver was fantastic, so knowledgeable, kind and wonderful with C too…he’s made some friends for life! We were lucky enough to see 2 tigers on safari, which was magical too.

The reason I booked with you was because of the variety of accommodation, which did not disappoint. We loved the diversity of the different places we stayed and the quirkiness too. The desert resort was amazing, the palace in Karauli just beautiful and the Dera Rawatsar in Jaipur has gorgeous bedrooms.

The only place that we had any negative thoughts on was the Ashok country resort we stayed our final night at. The staff were quite rude (our only experience of rudeness in India) the rooms… just generally not a pleasant place to stay, especially after our amazing experiences for the rest of the trip. It certainly didn’t ruin our experience but was a shame to spend our final night there.

…We had an absolutely wonderful time, Thank you for all your help and i’d like to chat to you about our next adventure! I’ve already recommended you and will be using you again for sure.

Family A (with two children aged 9 and 11)

Travelled Easter 2016 – Southern India
We had the most amazing time in Kerala, it does feel like a distant memory but I am sorting out the photos and bringing our memories alive. The best parts of our holiday were undoubtedly the houseboat and the home stay at Vanilla County. In Vanilla Country Baby Matthew and Rhani made us feel most welcome and relaxed, they looked after us well and ensured we got to see all that was on offer in the area. Taking us to see a working elephant, teaching us how to play traditional Keralan board game and prepared the most amazing food were just some of the highlights.

The houseboat was everything I imagined, the crew were again very attentive, ensuring the food they prepared was to our taste and suitable for the girls. We were taken on a small canoe down some smaller canals at dusk and this just added to the trip, it was an unexpected addition.

All the guides that were allocated to us were very knowledgeable and helpful, tailoring each outing to our specific needs. Our driver for the week, Mohan deserves a special mention, he was very helpful and again accommodating to ensure we saw all that Kerala has to offer, even additions that were not on our itinerary. He was always available to take us places and made sure the journeys were as comfortable as possible, he had good knowledge of where to stop on route, so that facilities were of the highest standard.

For us the only let down was the stay in Theakady, although nothing was wrong with our stay and the hotel was nice it seemed a little soulless and there was little interaction from the staff, again not unfriendly but maybe because we had been so well looked after at Vanilla County it seemed lacking.

We are already thinking about where our next adventure will take us and will not hesitate to be in touch when we need some help.

Thanks you for all your efforts in helping make our holiday memorable.

Family B (with one child aged 9)

Travelled Easter 2016 – Northern India
Just wanted to thank you and your team for putting together such a wonderful trip. We all had a fantastic time and long to return to India! I loved Chandelao Gargh and want to move in with the Bishnoi people! Dehli was fab, great day! Driver was wonderful and we loved him!

Loved Karauli and the staff at Pat Havali were so kind when A had a touch of Dehli Belly. Everything is Jaiselmere was perfect, the camels, the hotel, the guide! The hotel is Jaipur was disappointing, room dingy with a broken telly but the main problem was the very grumpy receptionist and waiting staff, such a shame!

Holi was hilarious – a real experience and we all really enjoyed the Holika festival that happened the evening before.

We had a wonderful time and seem to be inspiring a rush of adventure holidays from our friends, which I will naturally push in Stubborn Mule’s direction! Again, many thanks for all your help.

Also see excerpts from the family blog:
Day 1 – Delhi
Overslept badly. Patient guide was waiting for us while we had our breakfast. Afterwards we went to look at an amazing Muslim temple called Jama Masjid built by Sha Jahan (Taj Mahal) in 1650s.

It was enormous and beautiful. It had rained and we got wet feet as we had to remove our shoes.

Swapped our taxi for bicycle rickshaws and visited the bonkers market, which sold wonderful things, bangles, Saris, spices and glitter! We noticed the water pistols and dried pigments ready for the festival of Holi on the 23.

The rickshaws were fast and the drivers were fearless! It was a great way to explore the market. At lunch we met a snake charmer with 2:snakes, one a cobra! Photo to follow!

Day 3 – Jaiselmer
We did our first Indian train journey leaving Delhi at 18.30 (one hour late) and arriving at Jailsamer the next day at 1pm. First Class not what it used to be with the sleeping cars not nearly as pristine and we even has to make our own beds! This was A’s first Indian train journey and his first sleeper train anywhere. I think he enjoyed it. Kids from next door berth made friends and were very chatty in perfect English.

Jaisalmer – An amazing old 12th century fort in The Thar Desert near the Pakistan border. Looks like a giant sandcastle – our hotel is literally a palace with even its own maharaja.

Explored the fort by tuc tuc much to A’s excitement. Cows everywhere. Jaisalmer seems much more spruce than 20 years ago when I visited before.

Our hotel: Jaisalmer Fort

Tour of fort – In the morning we went on a marvellous tour round Jaisalmer fort with an extremely interesting man who was telling all about how people would get pushed off towers into spikes with zero chances of surviving. Afterwards we looked at some stunning Jain temples. Did you know that they do not choose to wear proper clothes instead they would wear white robes everyday and they wear a mask around their face so do not swallow flies since they strongly believe that killing anything is bad enough to make you a bad person. Finally they also don’t believe in traveling on public transport so they walk everywhere whether it’s to the shops or to the other side of the world.

Camel safari – After a good lunch we climbed aboard a jeep and headed to the desert. There we met three camels. We climbed on our camels, mummy on the Lamborghini camel called Mr Babergee.

We went to sand dunes where I played football and rolled down the dunes. Then back on the camels to our camp. We had two tents, small but surprisingly cosy. We had our own chef who prepared a wonderful meal. My parents said it wasn’t spicy but I disagree! We ate it outside under the stars. It got very dark but we had our torches from granny. There was no loo, just a bush!

Family C (with three children aged 15, 18 and 20)

Travelled summer 2015 – Northern India
What can I say… the best family holiday we have had! I was worried when I went that all would have changed since I was last there – but although many more makes of car (where have all the Ambassadors gone) and mobile phones – as enchanting, vibrant, colourful, humorous and full of friendly people. The children and M loved it and we all wanted to stay – we will just have to go back. The whole of India seemed to want our picture – probably splashed on Indian Face books.

The arrangements were excellent and the guides and drivers fantastic. The train trips great (even though the steam trains had disappeared) and our health robust – we ate well – locals gave us good advice where to go.

So many highlights but we loved Mandawa.

Jaipur hustle and bustle and the elephants – a great experience

Karuli – well art deco or what – and we were the only people staying there so we became good entertainment for the Maharaja and his family – I have never had dinner at such a long table with royalty at the other end.

The temples at Khajuraho amazing and Varanasi – spiritual (and our first experience of Monsoon rain).

Great fun having clothes made – my oldest son a suit in 6hrs.

And the Taj as beautiful as ever.

The only thing I would say travelling to the bird sanctuary was fascinating but need to travel 30min before properly get in and then quite a lot to see and then Fatehpur Sikri (which again was interesting but our guide who we selected was a bit of a hustler) was quite a lot on top of travel – but added to our story board.

All I can say is thank you – a fantastic trip and I will certainly be recommending Stubborn Mule to others.

Families P and C (with three children between them, aged 8, 11 and 10)

Travelled Summer 2015
Many thanks for organising an amazing trip to India. We were very impressed with all the activities and accommodation. Your partners in India were outstanding. Organisation, guides and driver were all fantastic. I would recommend this trip to anyone. I just need to persuade my husband to try China next year so will be in touch!

Family R (with two children aged 9 and 10)

Travelled Easter 2015
Thank you very much for all you help – the trip went very well, everyone was quite happy. My wife liked Karauli best as it is still unspoiled real India.

Family P (with two children aged 8 and 11)

Travelled Easter 2015 – Northern India
I just wanted to drop you a line to say a big thanks for arranging our amazing trip to India!! We had such a brilliant time. The highlights (there are so many) were: seeing 5 tigers in Ranthambore, a cycle rickshaw ride through the streets of Old Delhi, being awoken in Samode by cheeky monkeys trying to steal anything they could get and having a private dinner arranged for us at Samode Palace by the staff to show how much they valued our custom.

Everything on the schedule happened just as it should and this really took the stress away from us. Please pass on a massive thanks to your partners in India. We will definitely use your company again and recommend you to our friends!!

The only slight piece of negative feedback was that the hotel pool in Karauli did not look like it was safe to use. We were assured that it was, but the water looked like it could do with a good clean, and we didn’t think we should take any chances with the kids…the service there, of course, along with everywhere else was second to none!!

Thanks again Liddy!

Family T (with three children aged 10, 12 and 14)

Travelled Easter 2015 – Northern India
Thanks for organising us such a fantastic holiday – overall it worked out brilliantly but we thought we’d share the bits that worked really well and those bits we found more of a challenge!

Our first day in Delhi was (not surprisingly) very overwhelming! Depending on flight times etc it may be useful to stay in a hotel out of the city that is more relaxing or to have a clear plan for the day with a guide to help adjust! Saying that we explored the market and then walked to Crossroads Restaurant, which was great and then got cycle rickshaws back to the hotel.

The train station at night was pretty scary and overwhelming. Even the reps that met us thought we were mad and struggled to find the right platform and then our seats on the train. The children were very frightened and we were on the verge of booking a hotel for the night! Had this happened later in the trip we may have coped better but on day 2 it was a bit much for us all! Once on the train and with the help of a very nice Major in the Indian army we were absolutely fine! It is worth letting people know the seating / bed plan will be stuck to the outside of the carriage and make sure people know to take food and drink supplies to get them through the night!

Pal Haveli Hotel was lovely, right in the thick of it and has the most fantastic restaurant – both in terms of food and the view – book a roof terrace table!

People were surprised the palace at Jodhpur wasn’t included in our itinerary – is it worth it?

We did a very nice jeep safari into some local villages during the afternoon – visited a potter, weaver etc – this was fairly inexpensive but very enjoyable.

Pushkar Palace Hotel claims to have a pool but it doesn’t – it has an agreement with another hotel a kilometre away. It was great to be by the lake with views over the ghats although the website also shows their eating terrace overlooking the lake which we were looking forward to but this doesn’t exist!

Jaipur – you can no longer climb on the observatory – this wasn’t a problem for us at all but may be worth noting.

We know there were concerns about the elephants at the Amber Fort and how well they were looked after. It now seems as though things have changed and that they stop working at 11 am so they can rest (sounds as though things have improved) – the jeep was great though and cost 500 rupees.

Elefantastic was the best afternoon of the holiday! We were incredibly well looked after and the kids especially loved every minute! The mahouts were informative and great with the kids. It is worth telling people to take a change of clothes as we got soaked showering or being showered by the elephants – it really was an amazing experience.

Ranthambore was great (even though we were unlucky with the Tigers)! There were quite a few hours in between the game drives when a hotel with a pool may have been nice for the kids. It may / may not be worth paying a bit extra for a smaller jeep rather than the large canters.

Karauli was very nice although we were the only people in the hotel which was a bit strange. The pool was disappointing, as it needed a good clean. The food was lovely in the hotel but we did feel like a bit of a spectacle on our camel cart!

We payed the guide that was with us in Agra to come to Fatehpur Sikri with us which was useful. There are lots of unofficial guides there touting for business, which we were advised to be wary of.

I am worried this sounds like a list of moans which is not our intention – we really did have a fantastic time – it may just be worth doing the more challenging bits such as the train nearer the end of the trip when people (especially those with small children) are more acclimatised to the noise and number of people etc. With the exception of the train station we felt very safe on the whole and experienced much less hassle than we were expecting. Our guides were brilliant and pitched the pace and level of information at a good level for the children.

Thanks again for all your help in planning our adventure (we now need a holiday)!

Family B (with two children aged 12 and 15)

Travelled summer 2015 – Northern India
Some notes on the trip before I forget…. the hotels were good with a couple of exceptions. Dera Rawatsar was good but we were put on ground floor in dark rooms. They relocated us to better rooms on the first floor but not the best rooms we had upgraded to, they were full.

Ranakpur Hill Resort – very basic room, not clean, poor menu and poor service; the only place we carried our bags from our rooms. There were other hotels in that area that may have been better.

Sea Palace Hotel – not to be recommended. It’s an Indian Faulty Towers without the humour. Grim place with weird staff! We’ll remember it though!

The best hotel was Jagat Niwas Palace in Udaipur, very unique. The Mansingh in Agra, Pushkar Palace and Rawla Jojowar were very good too.

Because it was outside the tourist season, the hotels were empty so lacked atmosphere. The waiters were so keen to do a good job, on several occasions we had an audience watching us.

Delhi was as hectic as ever. We spent too long in the car getting across the city to see some sites. Might have been better getting a tuk tuk from the hotel.

The Taj Mahal was as wonderful as ever. In hindsight, we wouldn’t have had the guide and spent a couple more hours there to take it in.

Our driver, Rajeev, was great. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending him. His driving was 95% good with 5% random spurts of madness. Good for India though.

It only took 1.5 hours to get to Ranakpur from Jojowar. We could have done the next day’s driving that day too and spent an extra day in Mumbai. We enjoyed Mumbai, a more calm, ordered city.

The trains were all good. The sleeper was fine, an experience for the girls.

Because it was the rainy season, Rajasthan was green. No desert to be seen. Mount Abu roads were treacherous due to the rain, half the road gone in places. The Palace Hotel was nice but the rooms were very damp with no ventilation, and no one else staying.

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